At BookCon this year, the publisher of Sheets had a table set up with many of its books for purchase and there was section in particular that was for hyping Sheets. Brenna Thummler herself was there, too, so I got to hear a little about this graphic novel before I decided to look into reviewing it before its release next week.
The cover image draws you in at once because who hasn’t seen the classic ghost costume of a bed sheet, hastily thrown over one’s head to conceal their identity? It’s perfect in it’s simplicity, which works out quite well for the citizens of the afterlife in Thummler’s work, but it also has a deeper and more necessary meaning for them, as readers soon find out.
Published: 28 August 2018
Publisher: Lion Forge
Category: Middle Grade/Sequential Art
Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen year old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she’s worked for.
Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world.
When their worlds collide, Marjorie is confronted by unexplainable disasters as Wendell transforms Glatt’s Laundry into his midnight playground, appearing as a mere sheet during the day. While Wendell attempts to create a new afterlife for himself, he unknowingly sabotages the life that Marjorie is struggling to maintain.
Sheets illustrates the determination of a young girl to fight, even when all parts of her world seem to be conspiring against her. It proves that second chances are possible whether life feels over or life is over. But above all, it is a story of the forgiveness and unlikely friendship that can only transpire inside a haunted laundromat.
Rating: 4 Stars
I will admit that the story is kind of sad because of certain key events. Wendell, for one, is dead, to begin with and has to learn what that means. He’s a child and that’s never easy, but the afterlife comes with its own set of rules that must be followed or he risks real death, moving on to a place where he won’t even be a spirit under a sheet anymore.
Marjorie’s struggling to keep her family’s laundromat open while her father copes with the death of her mother, succumbing to his grief and barely able to care for himself much less anyone else. That situation was a difficult one to read because while it was understandable, the pain that he must have been experiencing at the loss of a loved one, it was also incredibly frustrating that he would put such a burden on Marjorie when she, too, experienced the same loss and now has to be an adult before her time.
Reading the book is a twisting path of emotion and that’s a good reflection of the emotions of the characters because there’s a lot they have to come to terms with: self-identity, right and wrong. It’s all a matter of perspective and Brenna Thummler navigates those paths quite well.
Sheets is about much more than the surface story of a living girl and a ghost boy. There’s Marjorie’s father, coping with an inexorable grief that consumes him. There’s Mr. Saubertuck, the blatant “baddie” of the piece, who is clearly horrible because of his actions but retains the slightest mark of pity because of his facade due to a need to please others. The multiple layers of Brenna Thummler’s story form a narrative that binds itself well to the graphic novel format. While it might stand well enough on it’s own, the ability to see the emotions play across faces, the actions of certain characters as they happen, add more depth for the reader, enabling us to connect more deeply with Marjorie, with Wendell, and many more.
There’s sadness in this book, whether it comes from grief in various forms, from the pressure of expectations and duty, but there is also strength and light from friendship in its many forms: neighbors and even friends from beyond the grave, wearing sheets to stay with us a little longer.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.